The study of more than 2,500 consumers and business leaders across Asia-Pacific (Apac) – Australia, China, India, Japan, and Singapore – found that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased financial anxiety, sadness, and fear among people around the world and had changed who and what they trust to manage their finances.
In addition, people are rethinking the role and focus of corporate finance teams and personal financial advisrrs, according to the research.
Business leaders in Apac saw the highest increase in financial anxiety and stress among all Apac countries surveyed, increasing by 136 per cent – the highest increase comes in China (200 per cent), followed by Singapore (157 per cent)
Sadness among Apac business professionals grew by 91 per cent, with Singapore topping all Apac markets at 200 per cent
Apac consumer financial anxiety and stress and sadness have almost tripled, with a 118 per cent jump.
Some 92 per cent of Apac business leaders are worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their organisation, with the most common concerns being slow economic recovery or recession (57 per cent), budget cuts (43 per cent), and bankruptcy (26 per cent).
Some 89 per cent of consumers in Apac are experiencing financial fears, including job loss (38 per cent) – most feared among Singapore consumers at 53 per cent; losing savings (44 per cent) – most concern among Japanese consumers (53 per cent), and never getting out of debt (22 per cent), according to the study.
These concerns are keeping people up at night: 41 per cent of Apac consumers reported losing sleep due to their personal finances – with India reporting 59 per cent, followed by Singapore (53 per cent).
The financial uncertainty created by Covid-19 has changed who and what people trust to manage their finances, the study said.
To help navigate financial complexity, consumers and business leaders increasingly trust technology over people to help.
Some 79 per cent of Apac consumers and business leaders trust a robot more than a human to manage finances, with Australians (55 per cent) trusting robots the least among Apac countries
Some 84 per cent of business leaders in Apac trust a robot more than themselves to manage finances; 83 per cent trust robots over their own finance teams.
Around 89 per cent of Apac business leaders believe that robots can improve their work by conducting cost/benefit analysis (32 per cent), detecting fraud (27 per cent), and creating invoices (25 per cent).
Around 68 per cent of Apac consumers trust a robot more than themselves to manage finances; almost three-quarters (76 per cent) trust robots over personal financial advisers.
Some 80 per cent of consumers believe robots can help with managing finances. Consumers in Apac believe that robots can be helpful in detecting fraud (36 per cent), helping to reduce spending (23 per cent), but least in making stock market investments (19 per cent).
The role of finance teams and financial advisers will never be the same, according to the study.
To adapt to the growing influence and role of technology, corporate finance professionals and personal finance advisers must embrace change and develop new skills, the study said.
Some 60 per cent of Apac business leaders believe robots will replace corporate finance professionals in the next five years.
Some 86 per cent of business leaders in Singapore want help from robots for finance tasks, mostly in budgeting and forecasting (45 per cent), finance approvals (43 per cent), compliance and risk management (43 per cent), and reporting (37 per cent).
However, Apac business leaders prefer corporate finance professionals to focus on communicating with customers (41 per cent), negotiating discounts (34 per cent), and approving transactions (27 per cent).
Nearly half (48 per cent) of Apac consumers believe robots will replace personal financial advisers in the next five years, with more consumers in China (63 per cent) believing so.
Some 79 per cent of consumers want robots to help them manage their finances so they can free up time (38 per cent), reduce unnecessary spending (34 per cent), and increase on-time payments (27 per cent).
However, some consumers in Apac still trust personal financial advisers to provide guidance on major purchasing decisions, such as buying a house (37 per cent), buying a car (34 per cent) and planning a vacation (33 per cent).